Jun 10 2014 8:30am

Sex with the Ex from Sheehan, Ashley, and More!

Bad Things by R.K. LilleyHow often do you get a second chance? “Sex with the ex” is an already popular trope in the romance genre that has seen a boom in recent books. Who doesn’t love a second chance to make things right? But these situations have to be done correctly, and that can be tricky; the angst, drama, tension, and buildup are all crucial ingredients adding to the Molotov cocktail that are these relationships.

R.K. Lilley’s Danika and Tristan series, one of my all-time favorites, is years in the telling, a tale of second chance romance in epic proportions. Starting from day one, Danika and Tristan’s relationship is a roller coaster of emotions and my neck has whiplash from the crazy ups and downs. The angst level is explosive. Tristan, the charismatic magician/rocker, has an addictive personality that causes a whole lot of issues. Danika, a young, budding art promoter, tries to stay strong for Tristan but after too many fights, accidents and antics she makes a choice to let the relationship go. What I loved about this book was the uncertainty of the relationship. It was realistic in terms of the struggles Danika and Tristan faced and when they eventually found their way back to each other, the reward was sweet and worthwhile.

What seems to be key for this troupe? Miscommunication. I find myself wanting to yell at the characters sometimes, JUST TALK IT OUT!” Of course, this only adds to the build-up of the tension and the development of the story.

Kristen Ashley’s first book in the Burgs’ Series, For You, follows Feb and Colt, who were high school sweethearts. After a devastating incident, Feb runs out of town and doesn’t return until many years later. Both Feb and Colt have found new relationships, as serious as marriage. As the book progresses, circumstances are such that both of them become single again. When a serial killer starts tearing up people close to Feb, Colt moves in as a protector and hidden feelings come rushing back. Trust is re-established between the two when Feb finally faces the issue that drove her out of town. What resonates throughout the book is the message  that time or distance can’t lessen the love two people have for each other. This is just one of many KA books with this theme. She seems to have a strong belief that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Madeline Sheehan's Undeniable series features a gritty romance featuring the daughter of a motorcycle gang and her forbidden romance with the president of another. With age, family and unforeseen circumstances pulling them apart, this is an intense read that leaves you desperate for more! The story follows their attempts to live separate lives but always managing to somehow find their way back to each other. The book is filled with an intensity that borders on psychotic.

The second chance theme isn’t limited to contemporary romance stories. It has evolved and has leaped across genres.

Bitten, recently made into a TV show, follows Elena, the only female werewolf, who was unwillingly turned by her boyfriend ath time. She tries to create a life outside of the pack but finds herself, after a year hiatus with a new boyfriend in a different city, back with the pack. Enter Clay, the boyfriend who turned her.

The tension simmers between Elena and Clay and reaches a boiling point when Elena finds herself the target of attacks against the pack. Set against a war between the wolves, mix in a new human boyfriend, and it has a ton of sexy ex drama.

Jennifer Ashley also pays homage to the second chance theme in Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage. After a brief meeting, Isabella finds herself married to the scandalous Lord Mac Mackenzie. Their marriage began in scandal and ends three years later, still deep in it. Eventually, after much grieving over their marriage, they find themselves together again. This book also clearly illustrates the tension that reverberates through second chance romances. Yes, they’ve managed to find each other again and are willing to go through this draining relationship again, but now they must work even harder to learn about each other again and make it work. Mac makes me swoon and leaves me in a puddle with his blatant seduction of Isabella.

Sex with your ex never seems like a great idea in reality but the result is usually different in fiction. Explosively dramatic, high tension and filled with romantic angst, sex with the ex keeps me coming back for more. Are you a fan of this trope? We’d love to hear which books are your favorite!


Jessica spends her time daydreaming about a life within the pages of her favorite books, hoping to meet her own alpha male in an amazing meet cute. Living in Miami, she breaks the stereotype of the tanned appearance; being the palest amongst her friends takes a lot of work and it's all owed to the aforementioned books. She works all day but dreams of the day she can get paid to devour romance books all day and night. An avid reader since she could sound out words, you can find her reviewing at Bookcrack.com where she lets her reading freak flag fly!

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Barbara Bauschka
1. njoireading
This is by far and away my favority trope. Mac and Isabella's story is one of my favorites, but I have read many others, including favorites "Simply Insatiable" by Kate Pearce, Elizabeth Boyle's "Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress" and of course, Eloisa James' "This Duchess of Mine".
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
I would agree with @njoireading that Eloisa James is particularly good about using the sex with the ex trope and it's one of my favorites--if it's done correctly! My favorite James example is actually a subplot of Esme in the Duchess Quartet. It starts as an illicit relationship with Sebastian (I think that's his name!) and then grows to a breakup and finally a reunion and it's so sweet and wonderful--I love it! I just re-read Fool for Love and that featured Esme quite heavily while she rekindled the love with Sebastian after they had been apart.
3. JessicaMoro
@njoireading I love Mac and Isabella's story! I haven't come across many in the historical romance genre. I'll be sure to add your suggestions to my TBR! I LOVE second chance romances. They're my guilty pleasure and an automatic buy. I'm always on the lookout for more. I love Eloisa James so i'll be sure to check that one out and @jenniferproffitt's suggestion too!
Jennifer Proffitt
4. JenniferProffitt
@JessicaMoro, to be fair--Esme's story is told in full but over the course of four books as a subplot. For some people that's a deal breaker!
5. Kareni
Thanks for a thoughtful post. I haven't read them yet, but some might be interested to know that the first four books in the 'Burg series by Kristen Ashley are currently selling for 99 cents each for Kindle readers.
For You (The 'Burg Series Book 1)
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